H-1B Visa Information for International Students
What is the H-1B Visa?
After completing time on OPT, if you want to continue employment you will need to be sponsored for an H-1B visa. This is employment authorization obtained when your employer files an application with USCIS.
Read more about the process of obtaining an H-1B visa in What Happens After OPT? The Basics of the H-1B Visa in the spring 2014 issue of International Student Voice Magazine.
H-1B Visa Timeline & Cap
Every year on April 1, the H-1B application window opens and stays open until USCIS receives the maximum allowable number of 65,000. For fiscal year 2015, USCIS announced on April 7, 2014 that it reached the H-1B cap.
*Cap means “maximum” or “limit”.
Once the cap has been reached, there will be a computer-generated lottery system to determine which H-1B petitions will be selected for processing. The date of when the lottery happens is announced each year based on the number of applications received.
The lottery begins with those who applied for the 20,000 advanced-degree visas. This means the person has an advanced degree from a U.S. institution. Those with advanced degrees are in a separate pool of 20,000 available H-1B visas.
Those not selected in the advanced category then get included in the lottery for the 65,000 H-1B visas. The petitions not selected get returned to the employer along with any fees paid.
Who are NOT Subject to the H-1B Cap
USCIS continues to process H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap. Those include:
- Those who are currently on H-1B visas and need to extend the amount of time allowed to work
- A current H-1B worker who had a change in terms of employment
- A current H-1B worker who changed employers
- A current H-1B worker who works concurrently in another H-1B position
- Those who work for a non-profit, such as a university or college
- Applicants who filed in order to work in the fields of higher education, nonprofit research, and government research. Not being subject to the cap means the employer in these fields can file a H-1B petition during any time of the year.
Top H-1B Visa Sponsors
See which companies sponsored the most H-1B visas during 2014 by clicking here.